Corporal punishment is widely practiced despite evidence of its harm to children. Clinicians can more effectively counsel alternatives if they:
• are clear in their own minds about the risks of corporal punishment and its boundaries with reportable child maltreatment;
• appreciate parents' justifications for corporal punishment and offer corresponding alternatives;
• demonstrate their interest and expertise in matters of child behavior and family dynamics;
• practice communication techniques that elicit discussion of psychosocial topics and facilitate mutual problem solving;
• let parents take the lead in tailoring alternative disciplinary strategies to the family's unique needs;
• start early helping parents understand child behavior in general and their child's temperament and development in particular.
Clinicians as a group should demonstrate a united stand against the use of violence within families.
Both undergraduate and continuing medical education should involve training in communication skills in general and problem-solving techniques in particular.
Pediatricians need more time during their training to learn about child behavior and family dynamics.
- Copyright © 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics